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Tounge twister

Twimericks, a collection of whimsical tongue-twisting limericks, is a book that appeals to both the young and the young at heart. Written and illustrated by Lou Brooks, this book makes a great gift for any avid reader.

About Twimericks

What is a Twimerick? A term coined to describe the unique poetry of Lou Brooks, a Twimerick combines features of a limerick and a tongue twister.

  • A limerick is a five line humorous poem with the first, second, and fifth lines usually having eight or nine syllables and rhyming with each other. The third and fourth lines usually have five or six syllables and rhyme separately.
  • A tongue twister uses a combination of alliteration and/or rhyme to make a phrase that is very hard to say properly - such as "rubber baby buggy bumpers."

Most of the poems featured in Twimericks describe comical people or animals. You'll meet "Rufus the Goofus" and "Ch-Chattering Ch-Ch-Charlie" while you giggle at "A Flatulent Platypus." Have the whole family take turns reading from this book and you'll be laughing in no time at all! If you're looking for short funny rhyming poems for kids, Twimericks is certainly worth a spot on your home library bookshelf.

Interview with Lou Brooks

Recently, Lou Brooks took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his work for the readers of LoveToKnow Children's Books.

What inspired you to write Twimericks?

The process of writing one just sort of occurred to me around 10 years ago. I've always been a fanatic of all kinds of word puzzles, and writing a Twimerick was my own little puzzle that I invented for myself. Not that I even had a name for it yet. It remains a very challenging puzzle to me still. A really great Twimerick is extremely difficult to write.

Why do you think children are traditionally very intimated by poetry?

They're not. They're intimidated by it being so rigidly and formally presented to them. We don't give children enough credit, although we used to be children ourselves and ought to know better.

By nature, most children love poetry. To a baby, every word it hears is poetry. In a few years, they're listening to poems and reciting them all the time, only they're set to music and called songs. The easiest way to teach a very young child something is to set it to music. Children welcome information when it's in this form. That's how a lot of us learned our ABCs. It's how they sell us junk on television. A poem is just a song without the music.

Unfortunately, we often unknowingly poison a child's mind with our own prejudiced fears and dislikes. So, a child "learns" that poetry is boring, incomprehensible, and for boys, even sissified.

Are any of the characters featured in Twimericks inspired by actual people?

No, none of them are. And if they were, I wouldn't tell you, because it would probably create a lot of business for lawyers. "Is He Izzy, Ozzy?" is inspired by Izzy my cat. Izzy's passed on, so he can't sue me.

What is your favorite Twimerick in the book?

There are a few of them, but if I had to pick one, it would be "Is He Izzy, Ozzy?" The reason it's my favorite is because of its simplicity. Good art always seems like it was so easy to create, even though it wasn't. Therein lies the art. Prose can be faked and strenuously overwritten, as it too often is, but good poetry doesn't allow that. Everything shows, even though less is said. Other favorites would be "Did He Do What He Did?", "Drew Drew Lulu", and "Croaking Josh." But, none of these are necessarily the best in the book. That's a personal thing for each of us.

Do you have any advice for your readers who just can't master the fine art of saying a tongue twister?

That's a hard one to answer, because there are many different ways in which your mouth might survive the ravages of a tongue twister. Some people like to concentrate very hard. Others like to keep their mind free and open. The best advice I can give is: like the fine art of anything, it takes some practice and patience. Your tongue, lips, and teeth have to learn to be circus acrobats, and I've written each one with that goal in mind.

Do you have any plans for a sequel to "Twimericks" in the future?

Definitely. I just can't stop writing them! And I probably never will, at least until I go to that Big Poetry Slam in the Sky. (I'm looking forward to a night out on the town with Shel Silverstein, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss, and Robert Service… don't expect us home before breakfast.)

What are some steps parents can take to encourage their children to enjoy reading for pleasure?

Sadly, parents depend on schools to accomplish such things, and that really doesn't always work, does it?

Ideally, it would be wonderful if all parents were voracious readers of great books, because then they'd easily pass their passion on to their children. But many parents are not. They watch TV. They rent mediocre movies. They read mediocre books. They look at stuff on the Internet. So, gee, I wonder what their children do!

I got lucky. Neither of my parents were big readers. But, I did have an amazing aunt who used to bring me books of all kinds. There they were and there I was, and it was easy to pick one up and look inside. Children are open to anything. That's why they can often be such a terrific audience.

I would say to parents: fill your house with books. Just put them all over the place. And READ them… your children will too!

~ A review copy of Twimericks was provided by the publisher for this article.

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